core2s12 fieldnotes, interviews, and reflections

Assignment Overview

Fieldnotes and interviews will contribute significantly to the amount of information you gather during the course of your project. The goal of this part of the project is for you to thoroughly think through and reflect on your approaches to recording and writing up fieldnotes and conducting and writing up interviews.

Fieldnotes, Transcriptions, and Reflections

Each student is required to take extensive fieldnotes in a notebook dedicated to this project wherever your research takes you. The structure of these notes should be informed by what we have read in Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, and in particular Chapter 2, where Participating, Observing, and Jotting are discussed in great detail.

A significant part of the fieldnote process is transcribing those fieldnotes. As such, each student is required to transcribe their fieldnotes using Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes as a guide.

Most of these fieldnotes and trascriptions will be for your own benefit. However, each student is required to create 2 extended blog posts in which you:

  • Scan and upload a set of fieldnotes from one outing or series of related outings.
  • Transcribe all jottings, observations, reflections, and so on, into sentences that are more legible, understandable, and as detailed as possible. Put this content under a bold-printed heading labeled Transcriptions.
  • Reflect on what you have learned during that outing or series of outings, what further questions you have, and where you will be going next. Discuss what you thought was successful about the outing and what you might have done differently. Also consider which portions of the reading informed how you have approached the fieldnotes and your transcriptions of them. Put this content under a bold-printed heading labeled Reflections.

Former student fieldnotes blog posts which you should use as modules for your own:

Interviews and Reflections

Each student is required conduct 4 formal interviews during the course of the project, 2 in-person and 2 online. These interviews are not to be confused with the casual conversations you will no doubt have with people during the course of your project. These are formal interviews that have an arranged time and place.

For the in-person interviews, use the interview techniques and ideas discussed in Postmodern Interviewing to inform your approach to the interviews. That is, you should see them as discussions. Have preset ideas in mind for what topics you want to discuss, but don’t have preset questions. For those of you who are journalists, this is your opportunity to leave the journalist behind and bring forward the ethnographer. That is, the goal is not to just see the participants as repositories of information (as in typical journalism interviews); rather, these interviews should be seen conversations during which you learn about the person as well as the topics they will discuss.

Choose 1 in-person interview and compose 2 blog posts—one that discusses the preparation for the interview and one that reflects on how the interview went. The preparation post should be posted before the interview takes place and the reflection post should be posted after the interview takes place.

For the preparation post, discuss at least the following:

  • the interview specifics: who you’ll be interviewing (first names are just fine), where, when, and why you are interviewing this particular person
  • the theoretical approach you are taking to the interview—reference Postmodern Interviewing
  • the main topics you hope to cover in the interview

For the reflection post, discuss at least the following:

  • how the interview was similar and/or different from your expectations
  • what you learned, what questions you still have, and where you hope to go next
  • what was successful about the way the interview ran and what you might have done differently (here, look to Postmodern Interviewing to see how authors critique the the approach to questioning)

For the online interviews, your interview participants should be found online. That is, they can’t be an in-person contact that you then interview online. Find them via Twitter, blogs, forums, Facebook, and so on. The interviews can be conducted via Google Chat, Google Doc, email, Twitter, Facebook Messaging, Skype, or other online communication medium. The medium should be agreed-upon in advance as should the interview specifics (for example, if an email interview, how many questions, how many follow-ups, by when they will get their responses to you, and so on). The medium should determine your approach to the interview. For example, an email interview will necessitate preset questions that will be emailed to the person whereas a Skype interview can be conducted as if it were an in-person interview.

Choose 1 online interview and compose 2 blog posts—one that discusses the preparation for the interview and one that reflects on how the interview went. The preparation post should be posted before the interview takes place and the reflection post should be posted after the interview takes place.

For the preparation post, discuss at least the following:

  • the interview specifics: who you’ll be interviewing (first names are just fine), where, when, and why you are interviewing this particular person, as well as how you found them online and what medium will be used
  • the medium you will use (email, Skype, and so on), why that one was chosen, and how that medium structures your approach to the interview—referencing Postmodern Interviewing here might be useful
  • depending on the medium used, the list of questions or the main topics you hope to cover in the interview and why you wan to discuss those questions or topics

For the reflection post, discuss at least the following:

  • how the interview was similar and/or different from your expectations
  • what you learned, what questions you still have, and where you hope to go next
  • what was successful about the way the interview ran and what you might have done differently (here, look to Postmodern Interviewing to see how authors critique the the approach to questioning)

Former student pre- and post-interview blog posts that you should use as models:

Due Dates

March 6: Interview Schedule due on your blog (who, where, when, in-person or online, and the exact dates when your posts will appear in your blog)
No later than April 3: Fieldnotes and Interview blog posts are to be recorded within 2 days of the field research and interview (preparation posts should be 1-2 days before the interview). This will ensure that the experiences are fresh in your mind.

During the weeks you makes these posts, you should consider them 1 of the 2 posts you are required per week (the other being the class discussion reflection). During the week you post about your interview, you should have 3 posts (the preparation and reflection posts, and then the classroom discussion post).

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